Sunday, 31 May 2009

Later…with Jools Holland (Series 34, Show 7 - Friday 22nd May 2009)

Ok so time for a review of Friday’s (full) show featuring Kasabian, The Pretenders, Regina Spektor and Paul Jones. Sadly Jones and Spektor only perform once and that just repeats Tuesday. News flash: Golden Silvers are still crap. Last of the series. Boo.

Friday line-up

Kasabian - Fire
The Pretenders - Don’t Cut Your Hair
Baaba Maal - International
Chrissie Hynde (Chat with JH)
Golden Silvers - Magic Touch
Regina Spektor - Blue Lips
The Pretenders - The Nothing Maker
Kasabian - Fast Fuse
Paul Jones (Chat with JH)
Baaba Maal - Tindo
Paul Jones - Philosopher’s Stone
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - War
Golden Silvers - Another Universe
The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket
Kasabian - Underdog

In a preview of the new (and third) album, Kasabian has definitely gone a bit low-fi and downbeat with the new songs. Fire is growing on me but the ‘live’ arrangement is a real mess. It is more a problem with the over-enthusiastic backing vocalists than the band itself. Fast Fuse has much more energy but a more shouty vocal - some great guitar work becomes a bit predictable. At least this shows that the band still has passion and drive. Some neat vocal interplay between Serge and Tom give a lift. Much better. A good advert for the album. They close with Underdog

The Pretenders kick off their set with the unbelievably bad Don’t Cut Your Hair. Second song The Nothing Maker is wonderful - a celebration of ‘lack of ambition’. A brilliant vocal from Hynde and a slight Pearl Jam vibe from the band. Great example of why the band are still relevant. And then they treat us to the classic Brass In Pocket. Still great.

Jools chats with Chrissie Hynde (why don’t we ever hear from the rest of the band? She seems to be The Pretenders these days). Jools asks about the Break Up The Concrete album and she suggests that it encourages people to destroy motorways. After the debacle with the ‘firebombing’ incident, she should probably be more careful with her words. She has had a country epiphany and says she is nothing without her band. Nice sentiment but I don’t believe it for a minute. She is always a good interviewee and Jools drops in a ‘what do you look for in a man?’. Warm and breathing apparently. Easily pleased.

Baaba Maal is an interesting character and the brass enhanced (courtesy of The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - more on them later) International, while not much of a song, was compelling in a chaotic kind of way. Not sure about his voice though. Tindo is a light acoustic number, strangely dark and thoughtful. He shares vocal duty with his female ‘companion’. The Pulaar vocals are haunting and beautiful.

Golden Silvers are doing nothing for me. Magic Touch is a weird blend of Richard Hawley (a bad impersonation) and MGMT. The result is horrible. I don’t deny for a minute they have talent for writing great songs and the guitarist is ok…but the execution is truly awful. Another Universe starts really well, then Gwilym Gold starts singing and all falls flat. Is this just a bad performance or does it always sound like this? Honestly his voice is terrible.

Regina Spektor shone again with Blue Lips. She is a wonderful performer. So WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???!???? does she only get one bloody song!!!????!!! At the expense of Golden Silvers? This could have been a great show if it wasn’t for them.

Paul Jones is basically on to plug his new solo album but talks about Leadbelly and getting into blues music. He is still a really great character and is fiercely dedicated to music. The footage is in black and white which shows his age. He hints that he isn’t comfortable with the direction that Manfred Mann took, when they broke America, and went pop. He describes it as being motivated by the need to eat, in other words it paid the bills and then some. Her eventually treats us to Philosopher’s Stone, predictably with Jools tinkling along in the background. It works but Jools has to show off, before Jones wades in with a harmonica and it becomes a musical duel. Good stuff.

This week, the special guest is The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a bunch of guys who look like they should break into hip-hop at any minute, but instead have trumpets, trombones and horns. And in one case a tuba. They also have a drummer. War is strange and wonderful, which is exactly the point. I think an entire album of this would quickly get very annoying. But you have to admire their approach - and talent.

A ghastly end to a lacklustre series. Kasabian and The Pretenders held it together and a good turn from Paul Jones and Baaba Maal. Regina Spektor was not heard enough at the expense of the woeful Golden Silvers. Please someone tell me, why they were on the show and what is their appeal? Maybe it’s a Hot Chip thing.

Come on Jools...get it together for the Autumn...please...

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